Lauren Sammis and Sagacious HF Lead USA Grand Prix Future Talent in the Open Class at Wellington Classic Dressage Spring Challenge CDI

Monday, February 9, 2009
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West Palm Beach – Lauren Sammis and Sagacious HF, owned by Hyperion Farm, beat out a field of more than 20 tough competitors for their first Grand Prix win. The pair just started at the Grand Prix this season in Florida and are quickly rising to the top.

"I just don't know what to say. I'm so happy with him," Sammis said. She hopes the Grand Prix win at Wellington Classic Dressage "is the first of many." Sammis and Sagacious have been knocking on the door of the winner's circle since they started the Grand Prix this season and Sammis said it wasn't Sagacious who finally got it together, but her. "My mindset was different from the previous Grand Prix rides. I went in there and said, 'This is ridiculous. I know how to do all this so get it together.' And, this time I did."

Sammis and Sagacious won the Open FEI Grand Prix at the Wellington Classic Dressage Spring Challenge with a score of 67.943 percent. Close on her heels was Shawna Harding with Come On III and a score of 67.589. Finishing third was another pair new to the Grand Prix, Gwen Poulin riding Carol Lavell's Much A Do with a score of 65.957 percent.

Al Guden, owner of Hyperion Farm's Sagacious, was thrilled with both his rider and his horse. "It was just such a beautiful ride and she did such a great job," he said of Sammis. "Lauren is a wonderful rider and she and Sagacious are on the same page all the time. You never see an argument." Guden said he overheard conversations that made it very clear to him that judges are keenly interested in Sagacious' progress. And that progress is clearly good. In fact it was Canadian judge Lorraine McDonald who along with Lelo Fore who were delighted with what they saw. "You have a team horse in the making." said McDonald, who decribed Sagacious as doing an "innocent" grand Prix showing international quality and promise for the future.

The 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding was part of the gold-medal winning U.S. Dressage Team for the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio with Sammis as his rider. The pair had some time off from their partnership last year because Sammis became a new mother of twins. But this year, they are back in action and aiming to qualify for the National Dressage Championships in Gladstone, New Jersey this summer. Guden said the pair will make the move to CDI-level Grand Prix competition at the upcoming Palm Beach Dressage Derby. 

Sammis trains with Canadian Olympian Ashley Holzer, who trains with leading world dressage rider Anky van Grunsven. And Sammis and Sagacious had the opportunity to work directly with van Grunsven in her clinic, held during the World Dressage Masters in Wellington. Sammis said she got very good feedback from van Grunsven who "thought Sagacious was really super."

Guden and Sammis give much credit to Holzer for helping bring Sagacious to Grand Prix so successfully. "We're so grateful to have Ashley Holzer helping us with the horse," Guden said. "She's done such a wonderful job. She's been such a big help and she's such a sweetheart of a person."

The Open Grand Prix, a large division unique to Wellington Dressage, also feature more upcoming talent. In third place on her first class with Carol Lavel's Much Ado Gwen Poulin finished third behind Shawna Harding and grand prix rookie Come On III.

"It was absolutely awesome to see an up and coming young lady ride the very big Much Ado. Think there was pressure on them with all those people going to watch?  I was too happy to cry! "Q" loves Gwen, and vice versa! "

"I was really happy with my ride on Much Ado. It was our first test together and there was so much for me to learn. Everyday that I ride him he pushes me to be a better rider. It is a amazing feeling to be able to ride such a talented and well trained horse. This is a ride of a lifetime and I have Carol to thank for it. Everyone knows you can not do this alone and I am very fortunate to have the support of incredible parents, family and friends. I am feeling like one of the luckiest girls around!"

And for Harding who dominated the winner's circle in 2008 in the Prix St Georges/Intermediaire, she is also knocking on the door for a repeat performance in the Grand Prix in 2009. "I am very happy to have the opportunity to compete in the Grand Prix again and for the first time in the US."

"It is very exciting and gratifying to finally compete at this level with my own Come On III. I have trained him from a young horse and feel I have ridden a good solid foundation into him. We had a lot of success last season and am hoping for a bright future in our big step up to the Grand Prix. I look forward to see how much I can improve our test and how much is in this special horse. 

Come On has nice trot half passes, the piaffe and passage are still developing and canter pirouettes are ever improving. He had a hard time standing in the halts which cost us a lot today as did the mistakes in the one tempis. My friend Michelle Gibson has given me a lot of support and eyes on the ground. It is hard finding good help and being able to afford it when it's there. We have a lot of room to improve and I look forward to our future holds."